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Old 04-11-2009, 11:30 AM
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Default James?

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I want to make a bread that I pulled from this forum. It's calling for barm/white sourdough starter. Where do you buy this stuff - no one has heard of it.

TIA,

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Old 04-11-2009, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: James?

I know there are people selling sourdough starter, much of which alleges to have a long history... but you can make your own. All it takes is time. Here's my method (adapted from Nancy Silverton, originally, and Michel Suas and others):

mix a slurry of flour and water in a clean vessel. I like mine gooey at this point. Add five or six unwashed grapes. Unwashed grapes have natural yeast in the "blush" - the white film on them.

Let it sit for a week or so on the counter, then remove the grapes. Watch the mixture for bubbling. Don't stare... it will just waste your time.

When its bubbling and growing throw half of it away; replace the discarded material with new flour and water. Let it sit for a week or so on the counter.

When its bubbling and growing throw half of it away; replace the discarded material with new flour and water. Let it sit for a week or so on the counter.

When its bubbling and growing throw half of it away; replace the discarded material with new flour and water. Let it sit for a week or so on the counter.

By now it might be active enough to bake with. Before baking I like to refresh to a stiffer dough-like consistency. Then let it sit for a few days until it starts bubbling/growing.

Then use half of it to bake with and refresh the other half with water and flour. There is some chemistry/biology regarding the type of micro-organisms and starter hydration... and resulting flavor/sourness. I believe it has been discussed on this board before.

If you are not a regular baker you can store the starter in the refrigerator and refresh it a few days before baking. it stores for a long time... the longer it is stored, though, the longer it takes to get it into baking condition. The longer you keep a starter going hte better it will become.

Might I suggesst you invest in Peter Reinharts Crust & Crumb, or Nancy Silvertons bread books. Both have good (but fussy, from my perspective) descriptions of the barm method.

Last edited by BrianShaw; 04-11-2009 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 04-11-2009, 01:37 PM
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Default or... from the FornoBravo Hearth Bread e-book

Quote:
the formula uses a wild yeast starter and a long, cool rise to develop maximum flavor from the grains. Often called a sourdough, barm or levain , there are many, many ways to cultivate a wild yeast starter. Some seem to involve voodoo or late night incantations. Neither is remotely necessary, and simple is better. The easiest and most successful method to propagate the yeast and bacteria cultures needed for characteristically sour breads is
contained in peter reinhart’s the bread baker’s apprentice , pp. 229-32.

Making the seed culture takes four days, but the amount of time involved is miniscule. The seed culture is then turned into a barm that, cared for properly, will last indefinitely. In chapter 5, you’ll find a source for purchasing dried sourdough starters. Although there is a lot of talk about the superiority of one dried starter over another, it’s important to know that once you hydrate it and expose it to the air in your kitchen, the dominant yeast strain in your area will take it over eventually.

another source is from jack lang at the egullet society for culinary arts & letters: eg forums -> sourdough bread. For a donation to your favorite local charity, he will send you a free portion of his starter. Although our methods differ somewhat, jack is a master baker, and this thread will also introduce you to his very well illustrated demonstration
on artisan bread baking. Joining the egullet society is free and highly recommended.

Yet another possibility is to contact jim directly at info@marygbread.com for enough barm to get you going, along with instructions for its care and feeding. This is not something we do very often, although the tuition for our baking classes includes barm to take away. The cost is $10, plus shipping. You’ll receive it in a dried state.
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Old 04-11-2009, 01:42 PM
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Default Re: James?

Thanks Brian! Doesn't look like I will be cooking that bread tomorrow.

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Old 04-11-2009, 01:58 PM
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Default Re: James?

No, it'll take longer than that, Les. However, it's pretty easy to make a starter and well worth it. Almost all the bread I make is sourdough based now. It's like a pet...

I made mine just with rye flour (seems to have more critters in it to get things started) and water- I think I used the method in BBA. I got the overgrowth of leucostonoc at first, but just kept dumping half and feeding, and the yeasties eventually took over.

Using sourdough has actually helped with my patience... you can't rush it!
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Old 04-11-2009, 03:12 PM
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Default Re: James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by egalecki View Post
It's like a pet...
It IS like a pet. I'm still mourning the day my darling wife put my starter to sleep. She thought it went bad... just because there was some liquid on it. It was only about 3-years old. Dead and gone, before the prime of life!
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Old 04-11-2009, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: James?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les View Post
Thanks Brian! Doesn't look like I will be cooking that bread tomorrow.
Make a barm... but for tomorrow use a biga instead. Mix up some of your flour and water from your recipe with the ADY and let it ferment for a while then store in the refrig overnight. Give it some time to warm up before continuing with the recipe tommorrow. It won't be a sour as with a sourdough barm but it should have good enough flavor to keep you happy until that barm gets going good.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
Dead and gone, before the prime of life!
That...cracked me up. Thanks guy's, I'm new to this cooking thing (but on the fast tract to learning) - I just like to build stuff. I have the oven fired up for cooking temps tomorrow. I am making bread in the AM and the wife is going to cook Easter dinner in the afternoon -fingers, legs, and eyes are crossed.

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Old 04-11-2009, 11:10 PM
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Default Re: James?

Don't forget to exercise your starter for a stronger bread!

Les, you've mastered building so I think you'll progress fine as a chef.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:08 PM
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Default Re: James?

Alas, the baker's role is schizoid and deranged! Caring for his beloved PET one day - nurturing and feedng the beasties. And then, the next, casting it in the fire and a frenzy of death! And devouring the remnants of his PET!
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